SUGGESTIONS AS TO WORKS
In this chp are set down methods, shown by general experience to be
especially fruitful, of employing the work-obligation of the Legion.
They represent, however, only suggestions, and particular needs may
call for particular works. It is urged that enterprising and difficult
work should not be withheld from the Legion, which is admirably adapted
to the doing of such work. Trivial tasks will react unfavourably on the
spirit of the legionaries.
As a principle, every praesidium
should be doing some work which can be called heroic. Even at the
beginning it should not be impossible to find two members with a heart
for such adventure, and let them be assigned to it. Then their example
will be a headline towards which their fellow-members will almost
automatically ascend. When the general level has in this way been
lifted, the original intrepid two should again be sent in pursuit of
the heroic. This progressive pioneering provides a means of continually
raising standards. For the natural limitations do not exist in the
supernatural order. The more one plunges into God, the wider become the
horizons, and the greater the possibilities.
But at once there is dissent. The
idea of running risks for religion disturbs a lot of people. These make
the air resound with cries of "improper" and "imprudent." But the world
is not talking in that weak way, and the Legion should not be less
spirited. If a work is necessary to souls, and if a high headline is
vital to the forming of the character of the Christian community, then
caution must take a second place and courage must precede it. Weigh
these words of Cardinal Pie: "When prudence will be everywhere, then
courage will no longer be anywhere. You will find that we will die of
Do not let the Legion die of
Some of the ways in which the
legionaries may help the growth of a true community spirit are as
(a) Visitation of the homes of the
people. (see No. 2, of this chapter);
(b) Conducting para-liturgical
services on Sundays and holidays of obligation in places where there is
no priest available to celebrate Mass;
(c) Conducting religious instruction
(d) Visitation and care of the
handicapped, the sick and the old, including, when necessary, making
arrangements for a visit of the priest;
(e) Recitation of the rosary at
wakes and funerals;
(f) Promotion of Catholic
Associations and Parish Societies, including Church Confraternities or
Sodalities, where they exist, by recruiting new members and encouraging
existing members to persevere;
(g) Collaboration in every apostolic
and missionary undertaking sponsored by the parish and so help to bring
every soul in some manner into the protective network of the Church,
thus securing the safety alike of the individual and the community.
There are certain other parochial
works which, though important, would not satisfy, except in special
cases, the work obligation for senior legionaries. Among these works
are: Altar Society work, the keeping of the church clean and beautiful,
stewarding at Church services, Mass serving, etc. Where necessary, the
legionaries could organise and superintend the performance of these
duties, which would be a source of blessing to the persons undertaking
them. The legionaries could then make the more difficult, direct
approaches to souls.
"I desire, like the Mother of Grace,
to work for God. I desire to co-operate by my labours and sacrifices
towards my own salvation and that of the whole world, as the Holy
Scripture says of the Machabees, who in the holy enthusiam of their
courage, 'did not care to save themselves alone, but undertook to save
the greatest possible number of their brethren'." (Gratry: Month of May)
Though not its initial venture, the
visitation of the homes has been traditionally the preferred work of
the Legion, its special occupation everywhere and its avenue of
greatest good. It is a characteristic of the Legion.
Through this visitation, personal
contact can be made with a great many people and the Church's concern
for every person and every family can be shown. "The Church's pastoral
concern will not be limited only to the Christian families closest at
hand; it will extend its horizons in harmony with the Heart of Christ,
and will show itself to be even more lively for families in general and
for those families in particular which are in difficult or irregular
situations. For all of them the Church will have a word of truth,
goodness, understanding, hope and deep sympathy with their sometimes
tragic difficulties. To all of them she will offer her disinterested
help so that they can come closer to that model of a family which the
Creator intended from 'the beginning' and which Christ has renewed with
his redeeming grace." (FC 65)
The praesidium must think out its
methods of approach to the homes. Obviously, the legionaries have to
introduce themselves and to explain why they are there. Visitation for
the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the homes, for the making of
the Parish Census and the dissemination of Catholic literature
described in the following pages, are among some of the ways in which
approach to the homes may be undertaken.
Not only Catholics who are living
the Christian life but all can be brought within the sphere of the
legionary apostolate through the visitation of the homes. Contact can
be made with non-Catholics and non-Christians, and with Catholics who
are estranged from the Church. Attention will be given also to those in
irregular marriage situations as referred to above, to those in need of
instruction, to the lonely and the infirm. Every home should be viewed
from the angle of rendering service.
The legionary visitation will be
marked by humility and simplicity. People may have incorrect ideas
concerning the visitation, expecting to be lectured in a superior way.
On the contrary, legionaries should aim initially at listening instead
of talking. Having listened patiently and respectfully, they will have
won the right to be heard.
It will be found that the
propagation of the devotion of the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in
the home provides a specially favourable introduction and avenue to the
friendship of families.
The ideals and the methods which are
to characterise that approach are considered in detail in chp 39,
Cardinal Points of the Legion Apostolate. Therein, it is sufficiently
stressed that as far as possible no home should be passed over, and
that in each home loving and persevering effort is to be directed
towards the inducing of each person, young and old without exception,
to ascend at least one step in the spiritual life.
Those detailed to this work may take
to themselves in fulness the Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart. Even
the tenth: "I will give to the priests the grace to touch the most
hardened hearts," belongs in a measure to those who go as the priest's
representatives. Specially encouraged by this thought, the legionaries
will go with perfect confidence to grapple with the cases branded
The Enthronement visitation forms
the most fruitful of all introductions, striking the right note of
simple piety from the very commencement, facilitating acquaintance and
hence repeated visits, and rendering easy the development of the Legion
As it is the mission of Mary to
bring about the reign of Jesus, so there is a special appropriateness
(which should attract the special graces of the Holy Spirit) in the
Legion of Mary propagating the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart.
4. THE MAKING OF THE PARISH CENSUS
This work provides an excellent way
of getting in touch with the Catholics who need attention or who have
drifted into the category of lapsed, that is, those who have lost all
association with the Church. Going in the name of the priest,
visitation should if possible be from door to door. It is taken as a
matter of course by the persons visited that particulars as to religion
should be asked, and as a rule they are cheerfully given. Included in
what is learned is much that will form subject for long-continued
effort on the part of Priest and legionaries.
But discovery is only the
preliminary, and the easiest, step. To restore to the fold each one of
those so found must be regarded as being in a measure a trusteeship
conferred upon the Legion by God - one to be entered upon with joy and
pursued with invincible spirit. Let not the Legion, through any cause
in its own power, fail in the fulfilment of that trust, no matter how
long-drawn-out the battle, how arduous the labours, how great the
rebuffs, how hardened the cases, how hopeless the prospect.
In addition, it is repeated that not
merely the indifferent, but all, shall be the subject of an
5. VISITATION OF HOSPITALS,
INCLUDING PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITALS
The visitation of a hospital for the
poor was the first work the Legion ever undertook and for a while it
did no other. It teemed with blessings for the infant organisation, and
the Legion desires that this work will ever be attended to by its
praesidia. The following, written in those early days, exemplifies the
spirit which must always characterise it:-
"Then a name was called and a member
began her report. It concerned the visitation of a hospital. It was
brief, yet showed great intimacy with the patients. She admitted with
some confusion that the patients knew the names of all her brothers and
sisters. She is succeeded by her co-visitor. Evidently work is done in
pairs. It occurs to me that apart from there being apostolic example
for this, the practice prevents procrastination in the making of the
"Report follows report. In some
wards there is something new and there is an extended account, but most
reports are short. Many are amusing, many touching, and all are
beautiful in the obvious realisation shown of Whom it is that is
visited in the patient. There is evidence of it in every report. Why,
many people would not do for their own flesh and blood what is here
recounted as done, simply and naturally, for the least elements in our
population. The exquisite care and tenderness of the visits are
supplemented by the performance of many commissions - the writing of
letters, the looking up of the neglectful friends or relatives, the
running of errands. It is plain that nothing is too disagreeable or too
trifling to look after.
"One letter from a patient to her
visitors was read out at the meeting. A phrase from it ran: 'Since you
came into my life.' It rang of the cheap novelette, and all laughed.
But later I thought back to a lonely person in a hospital bed to whom
those words meant a great deal, and the thought filled me with emotion.
I reflected, too, that though said of one, it could apply to all. Thus
wonderful is the power of association which can bring together many
persons into one room and thence send them out on angelic missions into
the lives of thousands who have dropped out of the recollection of the
outside world." (Father Michael Creedon, first Spiritual Director of
Concilium Legionis Mariae.)
Legionary visitation should be used
to educate the patients to at true conception of their sufferings, that
they may bear them in the proper spirit.
They must be persuaded that what
they regard as so intolerable is in reality a moulding to the likeness
of Christ, and as such a great favour. "No greater favour," says St.
Teresa of Avila, "can His majesty bestow on us than to give us a life
such as was led by His beloved Son." It is not difficult to bring home
to people this aspect of suffering which, when once grasped, deprives
it of half its sting.They should be helped to realise the greatness of
the spiritual treasures which they can acquire, by repeating often to
them the exclamation of St. Peter of Alcantara to one who had long
endured a most painful illness with admirable patience:-"O happy
patient, God has shown me how great a glory you have merited by your
illness. You have merited more than others can gain by prayer, fasting,
vigils, scourging, and other penitential works."
It is desirable that the spending of
these spiritual treasures should possess a variety which is lacking in
the earning of them. Moreover, a gathering for self will not exercise
so potent an appeal. So the legionary will unfold the idea of the
apostleship of suffering. The patients should be taught to busy
themselves in the spiritual affairs of the world, offering the
treasures of their sufferings for its myriad needs, and conducting a
campaign whose force must be irresistible because it is at once prayer
"Such hands, raised to God," cries
Bossuet, "break through more battalions than those that strike."
It will aid towards perseverance if
the patients feel a personal interest in what they are praying for. So
it is important that particular needs and works (notably the
legionary's own) be singled out and described to them.
Auxiliary membership must be an
early objective, and then the adjutorian degree. Groups of these
members could be formed who would then recruit others. In every other
way, too, the patients should be encouraged to help each other.
But if those degrees of membership
are practicable, why not active membership. Many psychiatric hospitals
have praesidia composed of patients. To have such in the institution is
to set at work there a potent leaven. Those legionaries have abundant
time to spend on their activities amongst the other patients, and can
raise themselves to a high pitch of holiness. The value of their Legion
membership - on its lesser level as a therapeutic or healing force - to
themselves has been so evident as to be everywhere recognised by the
medical staffs of those places.
This new view of life opened up to
them, the patients, some of whom had touched the depths of misery in
the thought of being so useless and a burden, will taste the supreme
joy of feeling that they are of use to God.
The Communion of Saints must
necessarily operate intensively as between the legionaries and those
they visit, that is in the way of an advantageous interchange of
burdens and benefits. May we not suppose that the sick are paying on
behalf of the legionaries some portion of the debt of suffering which
is due by every mortal man; but which, if borne by every man himself,
would leave the whole world sick; so that some are given the privilege
of bearing more than their share in order that the work of the world
may be carried on.
And what is the legionary able to
give in this invisible transaction? What else but a share in his
apostolate - the sick person being unable (and sometimes unready) to
fulfil that portion of his Christian obligation.
Thereby each one would be
delightfully benefited at the expense of the other. Yet it is not a
mere matter of evenly balanced exchange. For the gain of each far
outweighs his loss by virtue of the Christian principle that to give
brings back one hundredfold. (see section 20, chapter 39, Cardinal
Points of the Legion Apostolate)
6. WORK FOR THE MOST WRETCHED
AND DEJECTED OF THE POPULATION
This will involve the visitation of
their haunts; and of lodging-houses, hostels and jails; and it may be,
the conducting of hostels staffed by legionaries, resident and outdoor.
As soon as the Legion in any centre
is in possession of members of sufficient experience and calibre, this
work for the least of the least ones of Christ is to be undertaken. Too
often it is to be found neglected, with consequent reproach to the
There should be no depths to which
the Legion will not penetrate in its search for the lost sheep of the
House of Israel. False fears will be the first obstacle. But false or
founded, someone must do this work. If capable and
trained legionaries, safeguarded by their prayerful and disciplined
system, cannot essay it, then no one can.
Till the Legion in any centre can
say with truth that its members know personally, and are in touch in
some way with each and every individual member of the degraded classes,
its work must be regarded as being still in a stage of incomplete
development, and efforts in this direction must be intensified.
No searcher after the rare and
precious things of the earth must pursue his heart's desire more
earnestly than the legionary pressing after these unfortunates of the
world. His search may be their only chance of life eternal. Frequently
they are so inaccessible to good influences that prison represents for
them a blessing in disguise.
Moreover, the outlook of a
campaigning soldier must be brought to bear on this work. Obvious
inconveniences will face the legionaries. Perhaps to the 'slings and
arrows' of outrageous words, worse things may be added. The
'rifle-fire' of blows or the 'artillery' of injuries may be turned upon
them. Such things may humiliate and pain, but they must not intimidate;
they should hardly even disconcert. Here lies the test of the solidity
of the soldierly professions which have so often passed through the
mind of the legionary and have so many times been uttered by him. He
has spoken of a warfare. He has talked of seeking for the worst of
people; now that he has found them, it would be inconsistent of him to
complain.Why should it cause surprise to see that the bad behave badly,
and that the worst act vilely!
In short, in every circumstance of
special difficulty, or in face of danger, the legionary should remind
himself: "A war is on"! This phrase that nerves a war-ridden people to
sacrifice, should steel the legionary in his warfare for souls and hold
him to his work when most others would desist.
If there is any reality in the talk
of precious and eternal souls, there must be readiness to pay a price
of some sort for them. What price, and by whom paid? The answer is that
if ever lay persons are to be asked to face a risk, who are they to be
- if not those who are striving to be worthy of the title of
Legionaries of Mary? If ever great sacrifices are to be required from
lay Catholics, from whom - if not from those who have so deliberately,
so solemnly enlisted in the service of her who stood on Calvary? Surely
they will not fail, if called upon!
But leadership may fail, through a
mistaken solicitude for those led. Therefore, Spiritual Directors and
all officers are exhorted to set up standards which have some slight
relation to those of the Colosseum. This word may ring unreal in these
calculating days. But the Colosseum was a calculation too: the
calculation of many lovely people - no more strong, no more weak than
legionaries of Mary - who said to themselves: "What price shall a man
give for a soul?" The Colosseum only summarises in a word what many
words go to say in chapter 4 on Legionary Service, and that chp is not
intended to express mere sentiment.
Work for the derelict or abandoned
classes will always be a difficult, long-drawn-out one. Its keynote
must be a supreme patience. A type is being dealt with which will only
rise after many fallings. If discipline be put first in dealing with
them, nothing will be accomplished. In a short time the rigid system
will have lost all the subjects it was constituted to treat, and will
have as patients those who least require treatment. Therefore, the work
must proceed upon the principle of values reversed,
that is, it shall concern itself especially with those whom even the
optimist would term utterly hopeless cases, and whose warped minds and
initial insensibility to appeal would seem to justify this description.
The vile, the malevolent, the naturally hateful, the rejects and
black-listed of other societies and people, the refuse of cities, shall
all be determinedly persevered with in spite of rebuffs, utter
ingratitude, and apparent failure. Of these a considerable proportion
will form a life-long task.
Obviously such a work, carried on
according to such ideas, calls for heroic qualities and a purely
supernatural vision. The compensation for toil so great will lie in the
seeing of the objects of that toil eventually die in the friendship of
God. Then what joy to have cooperated with
"Him who from the mire, in patient
length of days,
Elaborated into life a people to His praise!"
(Cardinal Newman: Dream of Gerontius.)
This particular activity has been
considered at length because it really concerns the whole spirit of the
Legion. In addition, it holds, amongst services done to the Church, a
key position. For it constitutes a special assertion of the Catholic
principle that even the lowest of human beings hold in relation to us a
position which is independent of their value or agreeableness to us:
that in them Christ is to be seen, reverenced, loved.
The proof of the reality of this
love is that it be manifested in circumstances which test it. That
vital test consists in loving those whom mere human nature bids one not
to love. Here is the acid-test of the true and the false love for
humanity. It is a pivot of faith, a crucial-point of Christianity, for
without the Catholic ideal this sort of love simply cannot exist. The
very notion would be fantastic, if divorced from the root which gives
it meaning and life. If humanity for its own sake is to be the gospel,
then everything must be judged from the angle of its apparent utility
to humanity. Something which would admittedly be valueless to humanity
must logically, under such systems, be viewed just as sin would be
viewed in the Christian dispensation, that is as something to be
eliminated at any cost.
Those who give self-sacrificing
demonstrations of true Christian love in its highest forms, do a
supreme service to the Church.
If the preservation of the young in
faith and innocence can be assured, how glorious the future! Then, like
a giant refreshed, the Church could throw itself into its mission of
converting the pagan world, and make short work of it. As it is, the
great bulk of its effort is absorbed by the painful treatment of
Furthermore, it is easier to
preserve than later on to restore. The Legion will attend to both, for
both are vital. But certainly it should not neglect the easier work of
the two - that of preservation. Many children can be saved from
disaster for the trouble it will later take to remake one debased adult.
Some aspects of the problem are as
(a) Children's Mass
attendance. A bishop, delivering a programme of work to
legionaries, placed as the item of first importance the conducting of a
Sunday Mass Crusade amongst children. Mass-missing by children he held
to be one of the chief sources of all later trouble. A Sunday morning
visitation of the homes of children (whose names should be ascertained
from school rolls, etc.) will be found to be of sovereign efficacy.
Incidentally, it is to be borne in mind that children are seldom bad of
themselves. Where they are found to be exempting themselves from this
elementary Catholic requirement, it can be taken as certain that they
are the victims of parental indifference and bad example, and the
Legion apostolate should proceed mindful of this additional evil.
In the case of children, more even than in other directions, a
spasmodic or short-term visitation will accomplish little or nothing.
(b) Visitation of the
homes of children. In connection with the visitation of
children in their own homes, stress is laid upon an important
consideration. It is that an entry to families which otherwise would
be, for various reasons, inaccessible to religious workers, may readily
be secured when the stated purpose is the approaching of the children
of that family. For it is a fact, springing from the natural relation
of parent to child, that zeal for the child is above zeal for self.
Ordinary parents have regard for the interests of their child even when
they are forgetful of their own. The hardest heart softens somewhat at
the thought of its own child. Persons may be dead to religion
themselves, but deep-rooted impulses bid them not to wish their
children the same fate, and instinctive joy is felt at seeing the
movements of grace in their children. As a consequence, one who would
repulse rudely and even violently those who seek to approach him
directly on a spiritual mission, will tolerate the same workers when
their mission is to his children.
Competent legionaries, once admitted to the home, will know how to make
all the members of that family feel the radiation of their apostolate.
A sincere interest in the children will usually make a favourable
impression on the parents. This can be skilfully utilised to cultivate
in them the seed of the supernatural so that, as the children had been
the key to their parents' home, likewise they will prove to be the key
to their parents' hearts and eventually to their souls.
(c) Teaching Christian
Doctrine to children. This supremely valuable work should be
supplemented by the visitation of the homes of the children whose
attendance is not satisfactory, or generally for the purpose of
manifesting personal interest in the children, and of getting in touch
with the other members of the families. Incidentally, the Legion can
serve the purpose of a local branch of the Confraternity of Christian
Doctrine. See appendix 8.
The following instance shows the
efficacy of the application of the Legion system to the Sunday
Catechism classes in a populous parish. Despite earnest efforts of the
Priests, including appeals from the pulpit, the average attendance of
children had fallen to fifty. At this stage a praesidium was formed
which added to the work of teaching, the visitation of the homes of the
children. A year's work was sufficient to bring the average attendance
at the classes to 600. And this surprising figure does not take count
of the spiritual benefits conferred on innumerable careless relatives
of the children.
In all works, the legionary
watchword should be "How would Mary view and treat these, her
children?'' In this work, even more than in others, that thought should
be vivid. There is a natural tendency towards impatience with the
children. But a worse fault would lie in the imparting to the
instruction of a mere businesslike and secular tone, in such a way that
these classes would only be regarded by the children as additional
hours of school. If this comes to pass, nine-tenths of the harvest will
be left unreaped. So once again consider: "How would the Mother of
Jesus instruct those children, in each one of whom she sees her own
In teaching the young, memorisation
and audio-visual aids play an important role. Special care is needed in
selecting catechetical material which fully conforms to the Church's
A partial indulgence is granted to
the person who teaches Christian doctrine also to the person who
receives such instruction (EI20.)
(d) The non-Catholic or
State school. The life of the child who is not attending a
Catholic school is one continual crisis, and it may be hard to prevent
it developing in later years into one of the problems. Such measures of
remedy as have been approved by the ecclesiastical authorities of each
place will be taken up by the Legion and applied with all its might.
(e) Sodalities for the
young. For children who have been at good schools, the crisis
comes at school-leaving age. They are then emancipated from school with
its sound influences, its protective restraints, its minute safeguards.
Sometimes they were entirely dependent upon that support by reason of
the fact that their homes did not provide religious or controlling
There is the further complication
that the withdrawal of these things occurs about the age of greatest
moral difficulty, and unfortunately, too, when those young people have
ceased to be children without becoming adults. Naturally, appropriate
provision for that twilight stage is difficult, and accordingly is
frequently lacking. Then, when that transition period passes, and the
adult safeguarding system opens its arms to them, it usually does so
unavailingly. The perilous charms of liberty have been tasted.
Therefore the supervision which was
maintained in school must in some measure be carried on when those
children leave. A method which is recommended is that of forming, under
the auspices of the Legion, Juvenile Sodalities, or at least special
juvenile sections in the ordinary Sodalities. Before the children are
due to leave school, those in authority will see that the names of such
children are supplied to the legionaries. The latter will then call to
their homes to make their acquaintance and to persuade them to join the
Sodality. The children, who cannot be induced to join, should be made
the subject of special visitation, as also those who attend irregularly.
Each legionary would be allocated a
certain number of the young Sodality members, for whom he or she will
be held responsible. Before each Sodality meeting, those members will
be called upon to remind them of their duty to attend. An Annual
Retreat (enclosed, if possible) and an annual entertainment should form
part of the system.
There is no better way, in fact
there is no other definite way, of ensuring a regular frequentation of
the Sacraments by the young during the post-school period.
The case of young people discharged
from Juvenile Detention Centres or Orphanages requires special
attention in the above direction. Sometimes they are without parents
altogether; sometimes they are the victims of bad parents.
(f) The conducting of
children's clubs, Boy Scout and Girl Guide Troops, J.O.C. units, Sewing
Classes, branches of the Holy Childhood, etc. Probably these
would be carried on rather as the employment of the work-obligation of
part of the membership of a praesidium than as the whole work of a
praesidium. But it would be quite in order that a praesidium should
devote itself solely to some special work, such as those mentioned. In
this case, however, it must be understood that a distinct praesidium
meeting shall be held and carried out fully according to rule. It will
not supply the place of the meeting if, as has been suggested, the
members are gathered together, as an item of the evening's Special
Work, for the purpose of reciting the prayers, reading the minutes, and
rushing through a few reports. Possibly in this manner the essentials
of a meeting might be conformed to, but a reading of chp 11 on the
Scheme of the Legion will show how little of the spirit of the rules is
reflected in such an expedient.
It is the desire of the Legion that
during each session of a Special Work which is under the control of the
Legion, the Legion prayers should be recited at the opening,
intermediate, and concluding stages. If it is not possible to include
the rosary, at least the remainder of the tessera prayers should be
(g) A Legionary youth
formula. It would seem to be necessary to propose some
guiding principles to legionaries who are running Clubs or Youth
groups. Usually the methods being followed depend entirely on the
individuals in charge of such groups, so that wide diversity of system
prevails, ranging from a daily to a weekly session, and from pure
amusement or pure technical instruction to pure religion. Obviously
these variants will work out to very different results, not always for
the best. For instance, unmixed amusement represents dubious training
for the young, even on the supposition that it 'keeps them out of
trouble'. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" - runs the
well-known saying. But this has been wittily complemented by another
one which is still more true: "All play and no work makes Jack a mere
The praesidium system has shown
itself to be a standard which is suited to all types of people and
works. Is it possible similarly to devise a simple standard system for
applying generally to youth?
Experiments have suggested that a
scheme on the following lines will operate satisfactorily, and
praesidia in charge of Youth Groups are urged to make trial of it:-
- Maximum age 21, no minimum age; age-segregation desirable.
- Every member must attend a regular weekly session. If a
group meets more frequently than once a week, these rules are optional
in their application to the additional meetings.
- Each member to say daily the Catena Legionis.
- At the weekly session the Legion altar shall be erected,
either on a table as in the case of the praesidium meeting, or apart,
or raised up for the purpose of safety.
- At each session the Legion prayers, inclusive of the
rosary, shall be said, divided up as at a praesidium meeting.
- The total length of the session shall not be less than one
hour and a half, but may exceed that time.
- Not less than half an hour shall be devoted to business and
instructional purposes. The remainder of the time may, if desired be
applied to recreation. By "business" is meant the conduct of the
affairs which would naturally arise out of the running of certain
groups, for example, football or other sports clubs, etc. By
"instructional" is meant any sort of training or educational influence,
religious or secular, which is brought to bear.
- Each member to receive Holy Communion not less frequently
than once a month.
- Members should be stimulated towards auxiliary membership
of the Legion, and the notion of service of one's neighbour and of the
community should be instilled into their minds.
Legionaries might conduct a
Book-barrow or a portable bookstall in a public place, preferably in or
near some busy street. Experience has shown the immense value of this
as a legionary work. There is no more efficacious way of carrying on a
comprehensive apostolate directed to the good, the mediocre, and the
bad, or of bringing the Church to the notice of the unthinking many.
Therefore the Legion earnestly desires that in every large centre there
should be at least one of these.
It should be made so as to afford
the greatest possible display of titles. It should be stocked with an
abundant supply of inexpensive religious publications. Legionaries
would form the staff.
Besides those whose primary purpose
is to look through the stock with a view to purchase, almost every type
of person will be drawn towards this. Catholics desirous to talk with
their co-religionists; the thoughtless and the indifferent, killing
time or led by curiosity; the mildly-interested who are not of the
Church, and who would be reluctant to place themselves more directly in
touch with it. All these will enter into conversation with the gentle
and sympathetic legionaries in charge, who should be trained to look
upon the enquiries and purchases as so many openings for the
establishment of friendly contact. The latter will be utilised to lead
on all of those encountered to a higher plane of thought and action.
Catholics would be induced to join "something Catholic." Non-Catholics
would be helped towards an understanding of the Church. One person will
leave determined to undertake daily Mass and Holy Communion; another to
become a legionary, active - or auxiliary, or a Patrician; a third to
make his peace with God; another bearing in his heart the seeds of
conversion to the Church. Visitors to town will be interested in the
Legion (which otherwise they might not see), and may be induced to
start it in their own places.
Legionaries are encouraged, however,
not to wait passively for people to come to them at the Barrow. They
should not hesitate to approach people in the vicinity, not necessarily
for the purpose of selling more literature, but in order to establish a
contact, which can be used as described in the preceding paragraph.
It should be unnecessary to remind
legionaries that the persevering following up of the introductions and
friendships initiated is a necessary part of the whole work.
The proposal to start such a work
will always elicit the objection that exceptionally well-versed
Catholics would be required to do it, and are not available. It is true
that special knowledge of Catholic Doctrine would be most useful. But
the lack of this need not deter legionaries from starting. For the
personal appeal will be the great consideration. As Cardinal Newman
says: "Persons influence us, voices melt us, looks subdue us, deeds
inflame us. Many a man will live and die upon a dogma: no man will be a
martyr for a conclusion.". In a word, earnestness and sweetness are
more important than deep knowledge. The latter is inclined to lure
those who possess it into deep water and tortuous channels which lead
nowhere, whereas a candid confession of one's weakness: 'I do not know,
but I can find out', will keep a discussion on bedrock.
It will be found that the vast bulk
of the difficulties which are voiced spring from a great ignorance, and
that the ordinary legionary is well able to deal with them. Less simple
points will be brought to the praesidium or to the Spiritual Director.
Attacks on the Church on the score
of evil-doing, persecution, and lack of zeal could be argued
indefinitely, and hopelessly confuse the issue. An element of truth may
underlie some charges, and thus add complication to confusion. To
satisfy the hostile critic on these and all other minor points of
dispute is completely impossible, even if great erudition is enlisted
in the task. The course to be taken by the legionary must be that of
persistently reducing the discussion to its very simplest elements:
that of insisting that God must have left to the world a message - what
men call a religion: that such religion, being God's voice, absolutely
must be one, clear, consistent, unerring, and must claim divine
These characteristics are to be
found only in the Catholic Church. There is no other body or system
which even claims to possess them. Outside the Church, there is only
contradiction and confusion, so that, as Cardinal Newman crushingly
puts it: "Either the Catholic religion is verily the coming of the
unseen world into this, or that there is nothing positive, nothing
dogmatic whither we are going."
There must be a true Church. There
can be only one true Church. Where is it, if it is not the Catholic
Church? Like blows, ever directed to one spot, this simple line of
approach to the Truth has over-whelming effect. Its force is manifest
to the simple. It is unanswerable in the heart of the more learned,
though he may continue to talk of the sins of the Church. Remind such a
one briefly but gently that he proves too much. His objections tell at
least as much against any other religious system as they do against the
Church. If he proves the Church to be false by proving that Churchmen
did wrong, then he has only succeeded in proving that there is no true
religion in the world.
The day has gone when a Protestant
would claim that his own particular sect had a monopoly of the truth.
Nowadays he would more modestly contend that all Churches possess a
portion or facet of the truth. But a portion is not enough. That claim
is equivalent to an assertion that there is no known truth and no way
of finding it. For if a Church has certain doctrines that are true and
therefore others that are untrue, what means are there of recognising
which is which; when we pick, we may take the ones that are untrue!
Therefore the church which says of its doctrines: "Some of these are
true", is no help, no guide for the way. It has left you exactly where
you were without it.
So, let it be repeated until the
logic penetrates: There can be but one true Church; which must not
contradict itself, which must possess the whole truth; and which must
be able to tell the difference between what is true and what is false.
Apostleship views bringing the full
riches of the Church to every person. The basis of this work must be
the individual and persevering touch of one warm soul on another soul,
what we call by the technical name of "contact". In the measure that
personal "contact" weakens so does real influence. According as people
become a crowd they tend to escape from us. We may allow the crowd to
keep us from the person. These crowds are made up of individuals, each
one representing a priceless soul. Each member of that crowd has his or
her private life but much of their time is spent in crowds, of one kind
or another - in the street or gathered together in any place. We have
to turn those crowds into individuals and thus enable us to establish
contact with their souls. How must Our Blessed Lady look on those
crowds. She is the Mother of each individual soul comprised in them.
She must be in anguish at their necessities, and her heart must yearn
for someone to help her in her work of mothering them.
The value of a book-barrow in a
public place has been already shown, however, a comprehensive
apostolate to the crowd can be carried out as a separate work. An
approach to people with a polite request to speak with them on the
subject of the Faith can lead to fruitful contacts. This approach can
be made on the streets, in parks, in public houses, in the vicinity of
railway and bus stations and in other public places where people
gather. Experience has shown that such an approach is generally
well-received. Legionaries engaged on this work must remember that
their speech and their manner are their instruments of contact.
Therefore, they should be unassuming and deferential. In discussion
they should avoid any word which suggests that they are battling with
the other person, or anything that sounds like a preaching at them, or
a laying down of the law, or anything showing superiority. They should
believe most firmly that Mary Queen of Apostles gives weight to their
weakest word and that she is almost infinitely anxious to make their
10. MISSION TO THE CATHOLIC DOMESTIC
This can be carried out as part of
visitation work or as a special work in itself. Only too often placed
in households indifferent or hostile to the faith, viewed as mere
machines, isolated, frequently migrants or immigrants with no friends,
and reduced to forming chance acquaintanceships full of the
possibilities of disaster, Catholic domestic workers are in need of
special care and support. Making contact with them forms an apostolate
of a notable kind.
To them, the regular visits of
legionaries solicitous for their welfare, will come as rays of light.
Generally the object will be to bring them into membership of Catholic
societies or clubs, into suitable friendships, and perhaps, in may
cases into legionary membership itself. This work will help to direct
many on new and happier paths, leading on to safety and holiness.
11. WORK FOR ARMED
SERVICES PERSONNEL AND PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
The circumstances of these people's
lives incline them to neglect of religion and expose them to many
pitfalls. Therefore an apostolate among them is doubly desirable.
(a) As access to military
establishments may not always be easy to civilians, effective work for
soldiers may require the setting up of praesidia composed of soldiers.
This has already been done in many places with signal success.
(b) Work for seamen will call for
the visitation of ships and the provision of various facilities on
shore. Praesidia undertaking this work should affiliate with the
recognized international society, the Apostolatus Maris, which has
branch-headquarters in the majority of maritime countries.
(c) The legionaries must exhibit
meticulous respect for military and marine discipline. Their actions
must never run counter to regulations or traditions. In fact, they must
aspire to earn for their apostolate the unreserved admission that it
uplifts the personnel in every way and represents an unmixed asset to
those services, and more than an asset - a positive necessity.
(d) Travelling people, gypsies and
circus personnel are among people on the move who should be brought
within the sphere of the legionary apostolate. Migrants and refugees
should also be part of that apostolate.
12. THE DISSEMINATION OF CATHOLIC
The lives of countless people, like
St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Ignatius of Loyola, illustrate how
reading of influential books, recommended to them by people, whose
judgment they respected, proved to be instrumental in leading them to
higher things. The dissemination of Catholic literature affords great
opportunities for apostolic contacts with a wide variety of people,
with whom matters of the Catholic Faith can be easily brought up.
Without on-going religious adult education, people living in a
secularized world are greatly disadvantaged. The Church teaches them
one world and they live in another. The voice of the secularized world
speaks louder than that of the Church. The imbalance must be corrected.
The Christian's mandate is to win the secularized world for Christ.
This demands that we have the right values and attitudes - the
Without underestimating other kinds
of communication, serious reading, that is, reading to learn, is a very
rich and influential source of ideas. A little reading done regularly
is much more helpful than a lot of reading done occasionally when one
feels like it. There is a real problem of getting people to read
religious books. Their interest must be aroused and if interest is not
to evaporate, reading material must be easily available. Here is an
opening for apostolic Catholics.
As well as religious books and
booklets, there are Catholic newspapers and magazines, whose purpose is
Before using any kind of material touching religion, it is always
important to confirm from trustworthy sources that it fully agrees with
the Church's teaching. Self-styled Catholic publications should be
deserving of the name. "It is not names that give confidence in things,
but things that give confidence in names." (St. John Chrysostom)
(1) give a reasoned synthesis of current affairs and a thought-out
evaluation of them;
(2) act as a necessary corrective to distorted views or calculated
(3) review and give guidelines on current media offerings;
(4) develop a healthy pride and concerned interest in the affairs of
the Universal Church, and
(5) cultivate a taste for reading of a more lasting relevance. In
addition to the printed word, audio-visual material plays a valuable
role in handing on the Faith.
Among the tried and tested means of
disseminating Catholic literature are the following:
1. House to house canvassing for subscribers;
2. Delivery of newspapers or periodicals to homes;
3. Staffing of Church kiosks and bookshops;
4. Staffing of a book-barrow or portable bookstall in public places;
5. Use of the Patricians to recommend follow-up reading material.
Book displays and their stands
should be attractive and well maintained. In advertising the Catholic
Church slipshod methods are not good enough.
During visitation for the purpose of
disseminating Catholic literature, legionaries will try to pursue an
apostolate directed towards the influencing of every member of the
13. PROMOTING THE PRACTICE OF DAILY MASS AND DEVOTION TO THE
"Every day, as is desirable, and in
the greatest possible numbers, the faithful must take an active part in
the sacrifice of the Mass, avail themselves of the pure, holy
refreshment of Holy Communion and make a suitable thanksgiving in
return for this great gift of Christ the Lord. Here are words they
should keep in mind: 'Jesus Christ and the Church desire all Christ's
faithful to approach the sacred banquet every day. The basis of this
desire is that they should be united to God by the sacrament and draw
strength from it to restrain lust, to wash away the slight faults of
daily occurrence and to take precautions against the more serious sins
to which human frailty is liable. (AAS 38 (1905), 401) More is
Liturgical laws prescribe that the Blessed Sacrament be kept
in churches with the greatest honour and in the most distinguished
position. The faithful should not fail to pay it an occasional visit.
Such a visit is a proof of gratitude, a pledge of love, an observance
of the adoration due to Christ the Lord present in the Blessed
Sacrament." (MF 66)
Probably this will be carried on
less as a work in itself than as one to be kept in mind and assiduously
pursued as part and parcel of every legionary activity. See chapter 8:
The Legionary and the Eucharist.
Every praesidium which has a sense
of appreciation of the power of prayer will strive to possess a
well-filled roll of auxiliary members. It is the duty of each legionary
to gain auxiliaries and to try to keep in touch with them.
Consider the generosity of these
auxiliaries who have given up to the Legion part of the precious
breathings of their souls. What possibilities of sanctity are in them!
The Legion is under infinite debt to them. That debt it can beautifully
repay by leading those auxiliaries on to perfection. Active members and
auxiliaries, both are children of the Legion. The active members are
the elder children, and the Mother of the Legion, as in every family,
will look to them to help her with the younger ones. She will not
merely supervise that help. She will make it effective, so that in the
"aftercare" of auxiliary by active legionary lie wonderful things for
both of them. In the soul of the auxiliary rises a great edifice of
sanctity; and for the active legionary there is the builder's reward.
This work for the auxiliaries is so
full of possibilities that it seems to call for the specialised
attention of some highly spiritual members of the praesidium, who will
pursue it in the spirit of the "elder children".
Concern for the missions is an
integral part of a truly Christian life. It comprises prayer, material
support and the fostering of missionary vocations, in accordance with
each one's circumstances.
Legionaries might, for example, run
a branch of the Holy Childhood and surround themselves with a host of
children whom they will inspire with love for the missions. Or again,
they might gather about them a group of those unsuited for full Legion
membership and (perhaps organise them on the basis of the auxiliary
degree of Legion membership) set them to sew, make vestments, etc. Here
are three works done in one - (a) the legionary sanctifies himself; (b)
he sets many others to sanctify themselves; (c) the work of the
missions is helped in a practical way.
In connection with this work, it is
specially necessary to stress two points which, however, apply
(a) No praesidium is to be turned into a mere collecting agency for any
(b) The superintendence and regulation of persons engaged in sewing
would be a satisfactory employment of work obligation. But the work of
sewing, by itself, is not deemed to represent a substantial active work
for a senior legionary except in very special circumstances, such as,
for instance actual physical disability.
"The four societies - Propagation of
the Faith, St. Peter the Apostle, Holy Childhood and the Missionary
Union have the common purpose of fostering a universal missionary
spirit among the People of God." (RM 84)
Having personally experienced the
benefit of a Retreat, legionaries should organise for them, spread
abroad the idea of them, and where they are not yet established, aim to
have this done.
This is the recommendation of His
Holiness Pope Pius XI, in the Encyclical quoted below, to those
"companies of pious lay people who have ambition to serve the Apostolic
Hierarchy by the works of Catholic Action. In these sacred Retreats
they will see clearly the value of souls and be inflamed with the
desire of helping them; likewise, they will learn the ardent spirit of
the apostolate, its diligence, its deed of daring."
The emphasis laid by that great Pope
on the forming of apostles is to be noted. Sometimes that purpose is
not served; apostles do not emerge. In that case the utility of those
Retreats is to be doubted.
Legionaries need not be deterred
from trying to cast abroad the benefits of a Retreat by reason of the
fact that there is no possibility of providing sleeping accommodation.
Practical experience has proved that a form of Retreat, with manifest
fruits, can be accomplished in a single day from morning to night:
indeed there is no other way of bringing the system to the masses.
Almost any sort of premises with some grounds attached can be converted
to this use for a day, and the expense of providing a few simple meals
will not be great.
TOTAL ABSTINENCE ASSOCIATION OF THE SACRED HEART
An admirable activity for a
praesidium would unquestionably be the recruiting of members for this
Association. The primary aim of the Association is the glory of God
through the promotion of sobriety and temperance; its chief means of
attaining this aim are prayer and self-sacrifice. Members are inspired
by their personal love of Christ
The main obligations of members are:
(a) to be independent of alcohol in order to do good; (b) to make
reparation for the sins of self-indulgence, including their own sins;
(c) to win, through prayer and self-sacrifice, grace and help for those
who drink excessively and for those who suffer as a result of excessive
(1) to abstain for life from all alcoholic drink;
(2) to recite the Heroic Offering (prayer) twice daily;
(3) to wear the emblem publicly. The Heroic Offering is as follows:
For your greater glory and consolation, O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
For your sake to give good example, to practise self-denial,
To make reparation to you for the sins of intemperance and for the
conversion of excessive drinkers,
I will abstain for life from all intoxicating drinks.
An arrangement exists:
(1) whereby a praesidium may, with the approval of the Central Director
of the Pioneer Association, be constituted a Pioneer Centre;
(2) that in areas where a Centre of the Association is already
established a praesidium would be permitted, subject to the consent of
the existing Centre being obtained, to attach itself to that Centre for
the purpose of promoting and recruiting for the Association. (see
18. EACH PLACE
HAS ITS OWN SPECIAL NEEDS
Legionaries will employ any other
means of achieving the objects of the Legion which local circumstances
may suggest, and which may be approved by the governing authority of
the Legion, conformity with ecclesiastical authority being always
understood. Once again it is insisted that the outlook on possible
works should be one of enterprise and courage.
Each deed of heroism done under the
Catholic flag has an effect, which may be styled electrifying, upon the
modes of thought of that place. All, even the irreligious, are startled
into a new seriousness towards religion. Those new standards will
modify the way of living of the entire population.